Photography Job Information

Work activities

You would normally specialise in photography for one area or use, such as:

  • general or social — weddings and portraits
  • advertising and editorial — advertisements, magazines and photo libraries
  • press and photojournalism — newspapers and other news publications
  • fashion — photographing models and clothing for magazines and catalogues
  • corporate (industrial/commercial) — company promotional material
  • scientific or medical — recording scientific research, or medical conditions and treatments

With most types of photography, your day-to-day work would include:

  • discussing the project with the client, or receiving instructions from them (known as a brief)
  • choosing and getting locations ready for the photography session (the shoot)
  • selecting the right cameras, film and accessories
  • setting up lighting and equipment
  • composing and taking shots
  • checking image quality
  • retouching images — by hand or with digital software such as Photoshop
  • processing and printing photos
  • marketing and running your business if you are self-employed

In some cases you might employ an assistant to help a shoot run smoothly. Assistants set up equipment, prepare sets and props, look after clients, keep records and help with printing and administration.

Working hours and conditions

Hours of work can vary and may often include evenings and weekends. As a self-employed photographer, you would need to be flexible about when you worked. Part-time work may be possible.

Your working environment could also vary. You would often work in photographic studios, or you could work in various indoor or outdoor locations, depending on the job (assignment).

Some jobs involve climbing ladders or working at heights, and you may sometimes need to lift and carry heavy equipment.

You would spend a lot of time travelling to assignments, which could be in your local area, around the UK or possibly abroad.


Starting salaries for assistant photographers can be between £12,000 and £17,000 a year.

Full-time photographers can earn between £18,000 and £50,000 a year.

Freelance photographers are normally paid a fee for each job, or an hourly or daily rate. Rates can vary widely depending on experience and reputation, the type of assignment and the budget available.

Skills, interests and qualities

To become a photographer, you will need to have:

  • creativity and a good eye for shape, form and colour
  • practical and technical photography skills
  • excellent communication and ‘people’ skills
  • the ability to make people feel relaxed
  • patience and concentration
  • reliability, and good organisation and time-management skills
  • computer skills, for using digital imaging programmes like Photoshop
  • good business sense and the ability to market yourself (if self-employed)
  • motivation and determination